From me to we: Building a community

Issue 29: Building our community; the research round up; recent events and an invitation to our book launch party

When our book first came out, our friend Jamil Zaki, author of ‘The War for Kindness’, urged us to ignore metrics like weekly book sales. Instead, he passed along a sage insight he had received from his colleague Kelly McGonigal:

“The great thing about sending a book out into the world is that you don't get to tell people what it is any longer. They tell you, in the way they respond and the community they form around it.”

Whenever we find ourself struggling with a setback or a failure to reach our own expectations, we turn back to this insight. Although we only published our book a month ago, the most rewarding thing has been the connections we have made and the communities who have reached out to us.

We have met a ton of fascinating and inspiring people, from best-selling authors to leaders at large companies, all of whom are trying to leverage behavioral science to make the world a better place. We have received thoughtful and touching messages from scientists and social activists, as well as a musician planning to travel around the globe to bridge divides.

One of our original visions for this newsletter was to build a community around ideas in our book. This week, we read Seth Godin’s book, ‘Tribes’. One of his core ideas is that people thrive when they can connect with similarly-motivated people to creatively generate new solutions that challenge the status quo. Although Godin doesn’t directly say so, this is at the heart of identity leadership—supporting people to pursue their shared interests.

Going forward, we intend to invest more energy connecting people who share interests around the ideas in our book, The Power of Us. Our goal is to help scholars, scientists, business leaders, policy makers and, well, pretty much anyone who is passionate about getting smarter about groups find each other, share ideas, and make concrete change. These activities can range from starting a virtual book club to mobilizing for broader action.

We also welcome new and dissenting ideas! Science is a constantly evolving process and when people bring new ideas to the table, including for bigger and better studies, it forces us to evolve our own thinking.

Our vision is to harness the enthusiasm and innovative ideas that are flowing into our inboxes by connecting people who share these interests. We suspect that we often have more to offer by bringing people together than by merely sharing our own perspectives. We also simply do not have the bandwidth to meet and help everyone who reaches out to us.

So this is the first question for our community! How can we better connect people? We want your ideas—so please add them into the comments.

For now, here are some of our suggestions. Let us know what you think would work best:

  • We want to invite anyone who has questions, ideas, or a plan related to the science of identity to share it in the comments of our newsletter.

  • We will share any posts about our book on our social media accounts. This can be like a bat signal for other people reading the book to find likeminded others and follow them.

  • We invite people to tag our @powerofus social media accounts with relevant opportunities or simply a desire to connect with members of this growing community. We will try to include at least one of these posts in each newsletter.

  • We are also considering creating a Reddit or Facebook page to help people connect and share ideas. We are not sure what platform would work best, but please let us know if you have other ideas or preferences.

This should get the ball rolling, but we will expand on this list of ideas and activities as our community grows. And please let us know if you start a group or create an event in this space so that we can share it with others and help to spread the good word!


Research round up

New research highlights the challenge of writing inclusive workplace diversity statements. Across three experiments, Payton Small and colleagues found that “defining diversity as inclusive of [all employees, including Whites and European Americans] increases Whites’ sensitivity to racial injustice against minorities but simultaneously increases racial minority Americans’ concerns about exclusion and unfair treatment”.

A massive international study led by Kai Ruggeri found that giving up larger delayed rewards in order to secure smaller immediate ones (a phenomenon known as “temporal discounting”) is a global pattern of behavior. Their findings challenge the idea that discounting the future is more common among poorer people, but show a robust relationship with income inequality.

Also new this week, research from Clara Pretus and colleagues finds that critical thinking and fact checks might not work to reduce sharing of misinformation by extreme political partisans.

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News & events

As we noted last week, if you happen to be in the New York City area today (Oct 12), you are invited to help us celebrate at a book launch party at the Book Club Bar! Bring your partner, a friend, or even a foe! Everyone is welcome and the party will be from 7-10pm.

If you’re planning on attending, please do RSVP here to make sure we have room.

This week, we both joined Reed Galen on the Lincoln Project Podcast to talk about political polarization in the US:

Dom also joined Xavier Bonilla on the Converging Dialogues Podcast. We enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion about our book, the science of identity, and fostering healthy dissent and cooperation in groups.

According to Anne Wilson, the stories in The Power of Us are resonating with her teenager! Please keep sharing stories and feedback as you read the book.


In case you missed it, check out last week’s newsletter…

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